September 18, 2009

Ode to a Surgeon

I don't know if this is normal but as a heart momma, I have some sort of love, crush, obsession over my daughters surgeon and maybe even cardiologist. As an example, one day as I left the hospital parking lot in my Honda Hotdysey after a cardiology appointment for Alexa, I saw him. "The Man", as some heart families refer to him, Dr. Teodori. There he was calmly crossing the parking lot from the hospital to his throne, I mean, office, while blissfully chomping on a heart healthy apple. Of course I am a law abiding, life loving, sensible person and I would stop for any human being (and animal for that matter) that was crossing in front of me. But when I realized it was him I heard this magnificent "Ahh! Ahhhh! Ahhhhh! concerto started immediately playing in my head, and I was a smitten for him. Like I wanted to role out the red carpet, and stop all traffic around us to protect him, etc. My heart skipped a beat and I stared and smiled as he crossed in front of me. And for a few seconds time stood still. Why?

Well, I will be forever indebted to this man. He changed my life, my families life, he gave my baby a second chance at life. He has literally touched her heart and therefore touched mine. I am forever connected to him. Now some of you may think I was being overly facetious about wanting to protect him so he doesn't get hit by a car. But it's true, he's been in a terrible accident, caused by a drunk driver, that took him out of practice and into the need for rehab therapy on his arm/hands. So I always, include him in my prayers. I'm sure many parents do, not just him but all the surgeons, who have dedicated their lives to mending little hearts. Now I also, realize he is just human, imperfect and mortal and that in the end the one worthy of praise is Jehovah, God, the true giver of life and Jesus Christ his son, the redeemer of life. Believe me, I have thanked them everyday and will be forever indebted to them for all the good they have given me and my family.

But in the meantime, I also thank this humble, mortal man with a great big heart, intelligent mind and healing hands. He has performed some amazing surgeries as you can read here and here. And so, below is a letter I wrote and delivered to Alexa's Cardiothoracic Surgeon about a month after her surgery:

Dear Dr. Michael Teodori,

How do I begin to thank the man that saved my daughters life? How do I tell him how much it means knowing he has literally touched my babies heart with his hands. That he has reached into the depths of her being and given her another chance at life ~ to live, laugh, love and be loved.

She is my third child. She was suppose to be my easy baby but instead I got a special baby. One that has taught me through her broken heart about courage and strength. Who has amazed me with her will to live and ability smile in the midst of adversity. She has known much pain at her tender age and it seems unfair she has gone through more than some people face in a lifetime. But still, I am grateful she is here. Alive, and kicking, … literally. Kicking when she gets happy, kicking when she gets mad.

Thank you Dr. Teodori, for allowing me the opportunity to know my daughter, the little baby I came to love in my womb. For allowing me the opportunity to show her how much I love her, for allowing me the opportunity to watch my older children come to know and love their baby sister with curious admiration and for allowing me to see my husband turn into a pile of mush when he receives her genuine toothless smiles and grins. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing what you do. I, like my younger daughter said ‘wasted so many thank you cards’ writing to express my thanks to you but it was not enough and of course I realize this letter is still not enough.

While in PICU E Room 23, during the month of September 2008, I watched your dedication to your tiny patients. I heard many great things of you while in the hospital both from parents and staff. And it’s all true. We have first hand experience of your gentle bedside manner. Of your ability to comfort a parents worrisome mind and broken heart at such a stressful time. Thank you for your dedication, knowledge and expertise in your field. Thank you for using it to help so many families and save so many lives. Thank you for listening to the concerns of an emotionally and physically drained mother, … mine. And thank you, wow, for saving my daughters life!

I’ve often wondered who feels more pain, my daughters literal broken heart or my emotional broken heart. I am happy to watch my daughter grow but as she grows I know she faces more surgeries in her life. It is a bittersweet joy. But still, I am thankful we have gotten to know you in the process and feel a little better knowing that, although I never imagined traveling down this road with my precious child, besides Gods spirit that sustains me, I have the reassurance of knowing you are her doctor.

Thank you once again, Dr. Teodori for saving my daughters life once and hopefully over and over.

With Love,

Michelle mother to Alexa


  1. hi michelle! thanks for visiting my blog. love your post! you are so funny! you asked about chloe's CHD article in the newspaper? I just kept emailing the local paper and attaching pictures and asking them to do a story to raise awareness. i also included info on a local NFP to tie article together. you can even mention feb 14 is CHD awareness day as a good day to do story. good luck!

  2. Great update! I love how you talked about your heart surgeon! Funny!! I think we all have a "crush" on our child's surgeon. I think Logan's even has a heavenly glow when he walks into a room! You are is all because of the gift they gave our kids...a chance at life!

    Stefenie, Ryan, Wyatt and Logan Jacks

  3. Hello Michelle
    I dont remember how I found your blog, but my heart resinates with so much of what you have written. Our CHD baby is 20 months. She was never diagnosed before she was born and we had her home for 10 days before her body began shutting down. It is a miracle (as it is with any of these little sweet-hearts) that she survived. I am always touched to read other heart mom's stories and appreciate yours especially as I hear you give glory where it is due - to the Sovereign Lord...giver and sustainer of Life!
    We will be keeping your sweet (and beautiful) daughter in prayer! Just wanted to introduce myself!


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